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Flashes of a Life

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The first time Theron brought it up, Morrigan laughed in his face.

He didn't seem particularly surprised by her reaction, which simply meant he knew her fairly well by then. That said, she saw a flash of something she couldn't quite make out flicker across his face before he quickly hid it again. He ducked his head, strands of his long red hair slipping from the loose queue he kept it in and falling down to cover his eyes.

Considering what he'd just asked of her, Morrigan felt a flicker of annoyance at herself for finding it adorable that he'd found a way to hide – in a manner of speaking, at least – when standing in plain sight. "Adorable" wasn't a word that she'd ever used when living with her mother, and it irritated her to no end that it kept coming to mind lately.

Especially when Theron was essentially asking her to share him with someone else. She shouldn't be thinking of him in any positive light just then.

"The crux of the matter is this," Morrigan said matter-of-factly, careful to keep her voice stern so that there would not be any misunderstandings. "I do not share."

Theron ducked his head even lower, very pointedly not meeting her gaze. Morrigan narrowed her eyes at the clear avoidance, doing her best to ignore the pang in her chest at the sight of it. She'd thought that she meant enough to him that he would at least look at her. Perhaps she had been mistaken about that as well.

She should have known better. It was her own fault for daring to hope.

"You may do as you wish," she continued slowly, as if she was speaking with a child since he refused to be a man and actually look at her, "but if you pursue another you may not also dally with me."

He flinched at that, immediately looking back up. "You make it sound like what we have doesn't mean anything," he said, and she swore that he actually sounded hurt. As if he wasn't the one making ridiculous proposals in the first place. "You have to know it's more than just—"

"Than just sharing a bed?" Morrigan asked bluntly, cutting him off. "You're the one who clearly has his eyes on someone else. If you're not interested in me simply for sex, is it the assassin that you want as a bed warmer then? Am I not enough to keep you satisfied?"

"Stop putting words in my mouth!" he shot back, his voice louder than it had been for the entirety of their conversation so far. The others had probably heard it back in the main camp, even if most of them had enough sense to pretend they hadn't if it ever came up.

Morrigan thought Theron was going to storm off for a moment or two. Instead, his anger seemed to drain away as quickly as it had come, leaving nothing but hurt and confusion in its wake. Almost as if she was the one being unreasonable instead of him. He seemed to almost shrink in on himself after a few seconds had passed, his gaze dropping back downward towards the ground as if he couldn't bear to meet her gaze any longer.

For the life of her, Morrigan couldn't figure him out at times.

Theron stood there in silence for a long moment, breathing heavily as he clenched his fists at his sides and pointedly didn't look up at her. His already pale skin had an almost grey tinge to it, and he looked as if he was trying not to be sick.

Part of Morrigan, a large part, wanted to chime in and force him to say something. She wanted to give him an ultimatum, to make it clear that he needed to make a decision: her or Zevran. She'd already told him that she didn't share, so she wasn't certain why she was letting him draw this out instead of pressing the matter.

Maybe it was curiosity, pure and simple. There was something about the way Theron was holding himself that struck her as off, as if he truly was having difficulty making sense of their entire conversation. Or, at least, her part of it.

For once, Morrigan understood the need for holding her tongue, at least until she had a better understanding of the nuances she was missing. She didn't like not knowing things, after all.

So instead of pushing, she waited. There was a first time for everything. And, whether she wanted to admit it or not, she was starting to think Theron might be worth a little patience.

Sometimes.

"Is it really that unusual for shems?" Theron asked quietly, after what felt like years but was probably not more than a few minutes. "To care for more than one person? To be involved with them without anyone being a... a... a bed warmer?"

Morrigan's first instinct was to give him a flippant reply. It was on the tip of her tongue. Perhaps in another world she would have done so and been on her way. But his tone was one of honest confusion, and the look on his face seemed just as befuddled. As if he was truly having difficulty wrapping his head around the entire idea.

Sometimes it was easy to forget just how young he was, that he had grown up just as sheltered as her in his own ways. This was not one of those times.

Instead of arguing, Morrigan sighed. "Is it truly that common for the Dalish?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. If it was, then perhaps she wasn't quite as much of an expert on them as she'd thought that she was.

Theron flushed, his pale skin growing almost as red as his hair. "I wouldn't say it it's common," he said, "but it's not uncommon. It just... is."

If anything, Morrigan's eyebrow went even higher. "It just is," she repeated, not trying to hide the incredulity in her voice.

Her earlier irritation wasn't gone, not by any means, and she wasn't remotely ready to drop the matter. Morrigan was starting to get the impression that they were talking about two entirely different things, though, and – while she was loathe to admit it – she suspected that it would be for the better if she actually listened for once before saying anything that she might regret.

Theron tilted his head, almost like a bird that was trying to figure something out. Then his eyes widened.

"Some people among the Dalish have one partner," Theron said hurriedly, almost tripping over his words as if he was in a hurry to get them out of his mouth as he realized that she was actually listening to him. "Some have several. Some have none. Everyone's different, and as long as everyone involved is happy then it... well, that's just what it is."

Morrigan laughed. She didn't entirely mean for it to slip out, not this time, but it did before she could hold it back.

Theron's face fell.

It was entirely unfair just how many different emotions went flooding through her at the sight of that expression on his face. She stopped laughing, simply shaking her head instead.

"If I understand you," Morrigan said, "you're saying you want me to share you with the assassin. And you want him to share you with me. You don't want to make a choice between us."

Theron opened his mouth. Then he closed it, as if he'd realized he was treading a very fine line and he didn't want to risk saying anything that might send it collapsing out from under him. Instead, he just nodded.

Morrigan looked at him, really looked at him. He was truly horrible at hiding anything that mattered. His face showed his every emotion clearly, and she could tell that he was foundering. Theron was expecting an ultimatum, and she knew without a doubt that he wouldn't have a clue how to respond to it.

A small, bitter part of her wanted to force him to make that decision even though she knew there was a good chance it would lead to her losing him, one way or another. If not now, then eventually. He'd grow tired of her, and he'd wonder about what might have been, and then he'd be gone.

She crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Have you had this discussion with the assassin?"

"You realize that he does have a name, right?" Theron asked dryly, grimacing as soon as the words left his mouth. They'd clearly slipped out before he had thought better of them.

Morrigan rolled her eyes. "Fine," she said, a bit more of a bite to her words this time. "Have you had this discussion with Zevran?"

Theron's blush had been fading, but that was enough to have his face flushing again. He shook his head.

"Not yet," he said. "I wanted to... I wasn't sure how you would react. I needed to know where you stood first." He met her gaze straight-on, not looking away as he had been for most of the conversation. "You're important to me. I mean, you both are, but you—"

He didn't say that she'd been his first, his words trailing off instead, but he didn't have to put it into words. Morrigan knew what he wasn't saying.

It would be easy to end this. All she had to do was tell him again that she didn't share, to make it clear that what he was proposing was not an option. He'd have to choose between the two of them, and Morrigan was almost certain that he would choose her. He probably wouldn't even be too openly bitter about it. He wasn't the type. No, he'd let it fester, hiding it away from everyone, until it was.

Theron bit his lip, chewing on it absentmindedly as he waited for her to say something.

Morrigan sighed. "Go have this talk with your assassin and see what he says," she said, trying not to let herself think too hard on what she was saying. "I make no promises, but I will at least try if it means that much to you."

The look of utter shock on Theron's face just then almost made it worth the dent to her pride, especially as it slowly faded into what might have been the largest smile she had ever seen on his face.

*

It was her own fault for letting some of the mercenaries lead her so far away from the others. The woods they were in were thicker than those Morrigan was used to, though, and she hadn't even realized just how far she'd strayed from the rest of their little band of misfits until it was too late.

She cursed as she did her best to ignore the pain coming from her shoulder, the arrow jutting out of it showing up in her peripheral vision no matter where she looked. The cut on her cheek had faded to nothing but a sting, at least, which was something.

There were only two of the mercenaries left, their companions nothing but smoldering charcoal on the forest floor. It was their own fault for thinking that a mage would be easy pickings.

Still, the remaining ones were smarter than their no-longer-breathing friends. They were using the trees for cover, ducking in and out of them so quickly that she couldn't catch them with her magic. And she couldn't risk shooting a fireball at them when she couldn't see them clearly, as she was fairly certain Theron would have an issue with her setting the woods aflame.

"Damn it," Morrigan muttered under her breath, slipping behind a larger tree that better hid her entire body.

She needed to get back to the others. She could still hear them fighting in the distance, the clanging of metal and the occasional yell ringing out through the relative stillness of the night. As far as she could tell, none of them had seen the mercenaries leading her away from them, which meant she was in a less-than-satisfactory position. Outnumbered, injured, and with no chance of help coming in the immediate future... it wasn't exactly the situation she liked to be in.

Not to mention she was pointedly doing her best to ignore the fact that her vision was starting to go a bit blurred. Morrigan wasn't entirely certain if it was from loss of blood or something a bit more sinister, but she wouldn't put it past mercenaries to have poison on their arrows or blades. Still, there wasn't anything she could do about it just then no matter which it was, so she supposed it didn't matter much for the time being.

Morrigan saw movement out of the corner of her eye, and her staff was already coming up as she spun around to face the heavily armored woman who'd appeared out of nowhere. She let loose a burst of flames, the corner of her mouth turning upwards in a satisfied smirk as the woman let out a loud scream before being entirely engulfed.

That only left one.

Her grip on her staff loosened slightly as a wave of dizziness washed over her, and it took more effort than it should have to keep upright. As soon as the worst of it was over, Morrigan tightened her hand on her staff again. She breathed through the pain and the lightheadedness the best she could as she turned around...

... only to find a blade aimed at her throat.

"You shouldn't have done that," the remaining mercenary hissed, his dark eyes narrowing as he met her gaze straight on.

Morrigan dug into her mana reserve, getting ready to set him afire like she'd just done to his friend, only to freeze as he took a step closer. His sword was digging into her skin, not enough to slit her throat but enough to make it a very real possibility if the pressure being exerted on it changed even a little.

A distant part of her mind pointed out that he was too close to set aflame, not unless she wanted to risk doing the same to herself. But, well, she had other priorities just then.

She stared at the man, willing him to drop dead with sheer force of will. Unfortunately, the world didn't seem to be interesting in giving her the ability to kill someone with her mind. More's the pity.

The man grinned at her, and there was something about the expression on his face that sent a shiver down her spine. Her hand tightened around her staff again as another wave of dizziness went through her, and she took in a breath that was a bit shakier than she would have liked. It was looking like she didn't have much of a choice.

Morrigan just hoped she didn't accidentally set herself on fire in the process. That would simply be embarrassing, no matter the circumstances.

She took a deep breath... and, in the blink of an eye, the situation changed.

The next few seconds were a blur. Morrigan saw a hint of movement behind the mercenary, just a tiny flash of something, and the next thing she knew there was blood splashing on her face as two blades went all the way through the man's throat.

The blade pulled away from her neck, falling harmlessly to the ground as its owner quickly followed it. Directly behind where the mercenary been standing, Zevran raised his eyebrows and waved at her with his blood-covered daggers. "I thought you could use some assistance."

Morrigan blinked in surprise. "What are you doing here?" she asked, her words coming out a bit sharper than she'd intended.

Zevran's eyebrows went up. "Would you prefer next time I leave you to die?"

"You know what I mean," Morrigan shot back, glaring at him.

He was good at hiding it, but a definite flash of confusion flickered across Zevran's face before he could put his usual mask firmly back in place. "I'm not certain that I do?" he said, or perhaps he asked, as there was a definitely upward lilt to his last word.

Morrigan opened her mouth to tell him exactly what she meant, that she knew very well his life would be much simpler without having to compete with her for Theron's attention. Before she could say anything, though, another wave of dizziness went crashing through her. The world went grey, and the next thing she was aware of was two arms wrapped around her in a surprisingly strong grip that was clearly keeping her from hitting the ground.

She blinked a few times, trying to clear her vision as best she could although it didn't particularly help. Then she looked to the side. Zevran was all but holding her up despite the difference in their heights, his arms wrapped tightly around her.

Zevran's eyes darted towards her. "Are you back with me?" he asked tersely.

Morrigan nodded, not quite trusting her voice.

"Good," he said simply. Then, without any warning, he started moving forwards, all but dragging her along with him.

It took most of Morrigan's focus to keep her feet moving and to not go sprawling to the ground, and the two of them shuffled ahead in silence for the next few minutes before she finally looked at him again. "Why are you doing this?"

"Saving your life?" Zevran shot back, not even glancing at her. "I'm starting to wonder."

Morrigan glared at him before closing her eyes for a moment. It was easier to focus on moving that way. Walking, talking, and watching where she was going seemed to be a bit too much for her just then, but two out of the three seemed more possible.

"I mean it," she said quietly, the venom fading from her voice because she really didn't have the energy to spare on it just then. "Why?"

Zevran sighed, but he didn't say anything for a long moment. Morrigan was just starting to think he was going to ignore her completely when he finally answered.

"I know you were not thrilled when Theron asked to be with both of us," Zevran said, and the frustration in his voice couldn't be missed. "But you said 'yes.' As did I."

Morrigan took in a deep breath and slowly let it out, trying to resist the urge to cough because she was almost certain that would end badly. "That's not an answer."

"Patience is not a gift of yours, is it?" Zevran asked, faint amusement leaking into his tone despite the situation.

The corners of her mouth turned upwards a little, almost against her will. "You're clearly very observant."

Zevran snorted.

Morrigan opened her eyes, stumbling when all she saw was a blur of colors. She quickly closed them again.

The arms wrapped around her tightened somewhat.

"No matter what you may believe," Zevran said softly, "I do care for him. As much as you do, I would imagine. And he feels something similar for the both of us."

"That's still not an answer," Morrigan pointed out.

Zevran laughed, but there wasn't any actual mirth in it. "Losing you would hurt him," he said matter-of-factly. "And him being hurt, that would hurt me."

"So helping me was entirely self-serving?" Morrigan asked dryly.

He let out another one of those clearly false laughs. "Of course," he said. "What else could it possibly be?"

Morrigan didn't say anything for a long moment, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. Her mind felt somewhat disconnected from the rest of her body, and her various limbs were starting to grow heavy. The arrow in her shoulder burned like the fire she'd used to kill most of the mercenaries that had attacked her, and she could feel warm, sticky blood soaking into her garments as it snaked its way down her body.

That is a very good question, she thought, although she kept the words to herself.

*

Morrigan's hands clenched into fists at her sides as she took a step closer to Zevran. "He did what?"

"You heard me," Zevran snapped back at her, his eyes flashing. "Asking me to repeat it isn't going to change anything."

She glared at him for a moment before spinning around, making a circle of the room to release some of her energy. "What happened to keeping him safe?" she spat out, not even glancing at Zevran. "This was supposed to be a quick mission, in and out. How could you leave him behind?"

"Theron didn't give us a choice," Zevran shot back. "He and Alistair surrendered to them. Theron told us to leave. What was I to do, ignore him?"

Morrigan felt a few sparks of electricity start to arc between her fingertips. "Yes, you should have ignored him!" she hissed, still pointedly not looking towards Zevran. She suspected she might be tempted to throw a fireball at his face if she did. "You were supposed to be watching his back, and instead you abandoned him. If anything happens to him, it's on your head."

"Do you think I do know not that?"

Zevran's voice broke just slightly at the end, and someone would have had to be completely deaf not to hear the self-loathing practically dripping from his words. Morrigan went still, her gaze finally darting back in his direction just in time to see him throw his fist out to punch the stone wall beside him.

His hand connected with the stone with a sickening crunch, but Zevran didn't even flinch. He just stood there with his own eyes focused on the floor under his feet.

Just like that, Morrigan felt the worst of her ire drain away. Oh, she was still angry, but it was more muted – and it was aimed at the world at large rather than the elf that was standing a few feet away from her. Because as much as she might wish otherwise, she understood.

If she'd been there instead, and Theron had point-blank told her to turn and walk away, she would have done what he'd told her too. She knew that she would have. It wasn't fair of her to blame Zevran for not being any better than her at telling Theron "no."

A distant part of her mind wondered when exactly she had started caring whether something was fair when it came to Zevran. Had it been after he had dragged her half-unconscious body back to camp a few months earlier? Or when he had thrown himself between Theron and a blade when Morrigan had been just a hair too slow to stop the attack? Or perhaps just a few days earlier, when Zevran's past had come to call, and he had made it very clear that his allegiance truly had shifted?

She didn't know exactly when it had happened. But it had, whether she liked it or not. Which meant there was only one thing she could really do.

Morrigan sighed. Then she walked over to where Zevran was standing, stopping just beside him. He didn't even glance up, his head bowed low and his arms hanging limply at his side.

Without a word, she reached out and took his clearly injured hand. It was already starting to darken and, based on the sound she'd heard when his fist connected with the wall, she suspected that one of the bones in it was at least cracked if not outright broken. It had to have been hurting a fair amount, no matter what emotion or lack thereof Zevran was letting show.

He ignored her. Or perhaps he was so lost in his own mind that he didn't even notice her. Considering the circumstances, either was equally likely.

Rolling her eyes, Morrigan turned her focus inward for a moment, finding the right bit of her magic to pull forward. Then she focused on carefully repairing the damage Zevran had done to himself, lessening the bruising and fusing the bones back together. She wasn't a healer by any means, and Wynne could have probably done better with much more finesse, but she knew enough to get the job done. It would at least be useable instead of a liability.

And, well, she suspected Zevran might not want the pain to completely go away. She knew from her own past experience that it could be a good way to keep focused on the present.

It took a minute or two, but she was eventually pleased enough with the job she'd done to let her magic fade. Zevran flexed his hand a time or two once she let go of it, but he didn't say anything. Nor did he actually look at her.

Considering how rarely he was quiet, the silence was become a bit unnerving.

"Theron is a very difficult person to tell 'no,' isn't he?" Morrigan asked quietly.

Zevran snorted, and it surprised her a bit to hear such an inelegant sound coming from him. He usually put up more of a front than that. Then again, he also tended to be careful not to let anyone save perhaps Theron see the cracks in the persona he put forward, and he'd just punched a wall in front of her not five minutes earlier.

Perhaps it was simply one of those days.

"It is impossible to tell that man 'no' when he asks you to do anything," Zevran agreed, finally looking at her. His eyes were dry, not that Morrigan had expected otherwise, but there was a brightness to them that made her think they might not have been if he hadn't been so well trained.

The two of them shared a commiserating look, and for once it felt... right. As if they were both of the same page, sharing a secret, rather than working against each other.

"Do you have a plan?" Morrigan asked.

Zevran tilted his head. "A plan?"

"To break Theron out of the prison they have undoubtably thrown him into," she said, only a hint of impatience slipping into her voice. "And I suppose Alistair as well, if we must."

He blinked, and it was just slow enough that Morrigan knew he'd been so focused on his own guilt that he hadn't even started to think of a way to undo the damage. Then his eyes narrowed, as if he was going through possible plans now that she had brought it up.

After a moment, his mouth twisted into a smirk that Morrigan didn't trust for a moment.

"Do I even want to ask?" Morrigan asked dryly.

Zevran shot her a flirtatious wink, the kind that he normally aimed at Theron. She simply rolled her eyes in return, crossing her arms in front of her chest as she waited for him to either answer her question or make it apparent that he wasn't going to tell her.

"I was thinking that I could claim to be making a delivery," he said. "It could get us past the guards and inside, if we were convincing enough."

Morrigan raised her eyebrows. "And what exactly would you be delivering?"

Zevran's mouth twisted into an actual grin, albeit one that was a bit more subdued than usual. His gaze moved up and down her body very pointedly, almost as if he was... was...

"I'm certain you're not implying what I think you are," Morrigan said coolly.

If anything, Zevran's grin grew a bit brighter. "Would you prefer to be the one making the delivery?" he asked, holding his arms out and practically inviting her to take a closer look at the goods he was suggesting be delivered. "I would not have a problem with that."

Morrigan stared at him. Then she sighed. "Theron better appreciate this."

*

It wasn't going to last.

Morrigan stared up at the ceiling of the room they'd been set up in for the night, the wooden rafters above them barely visible in the darkness. A hint of moonlight came in through the window, providing just enough light for her to see vague shapes, but that was it.

With a sigh, she glanced over to the side. Theron was curled up beside her, his eyes closed and his breathing steady as he sprawled out in sleep. Zevran was asleep on his other side, his arm resting lightly against the back of Theron's neck. Both of them looked much younger when they were asleep, especially in the room's dim light, not that it was a sight Morrigan got to see very often.

She could get used to sharing a bed with the both of them, watching them sleep and waking up beside them in the morning. But that wasn't the plan, and she knew it. It was a weakness, and she abhorred weakness... especially within herself.

When had things become so complicated?

It would be better this way. She had to believe that. When the time came, she would convince Theron to complete the ritual with her. She would leave with a child in her womb, and he would still have Zevran to share his bed and watch his back. He would be safe, neither of them would be alone, and she would have what she had come for in the first place.

That was how it had to be, no matter how much a small part of her wished otherwise. She could not allow it to go differently. There was no room in the plan for sentimentality, for feelings that never should have been allowed to flourish in the first place. Especially for two people, when she had known from the start that even allowing herself to develop ones for Theron was a mistake.

She had a plan, and she needed to stick with it. That was all there was to it.

Besides, the ritual would save Theron. It would give him a chance to survive, to end the Blight and become a hero and grow old. Or, at least, as old as a Warden could expect to get. That made it even more important that she not deviate from the plan, no matter what her foolish heart might be telling her. It was the only way, and she knew it. There was no other option to take.

"Whatever you're thinking about so loudly, can it not wait until morning?"

Morrigan startled, her head immediately turning in Zevran's direction. He'd woken up at some point during her woolgathering and had shifted slightly so that he could prop himself up on one arm. There was a thoughtful look on his face as he watched her, the corners of his mouth turned upwards in a soft smile that gave her thoughts that she tried rather desperately to ignore.

"I have no idea what you are talking about," she hissed at him, careful to keep her voice as quiet as possible. Theron was still sleeping, and she had no desire to wake him if there was any way to avoid it. He had a long day ahead of him, as did all of them.

Zevran didn't even deign to reply to her blatant lie. He just shot her a pointed look that made her shift uncomfortably in place. Even though she knew he couldn't read her mind, that it wasn't remotely possible, he still somehow managed to give that impression. If it wasn't so annoying to have it aimed at her, she'd be impressed.

Morrigan let out a somewhat exaggerated sigh before turning away from him, pointedly putting her back to both him and Theron.

Behind her, Zevran chuckled. "You are thinking so loudly that I am surprised Theron hasn't woken up yet."

"If you don't be quiet, my thinking isn't going to be what wakes him up," Morrigan shot back.

Between them, Theron shifted. Both of them went still, neither of them saying a word and – for Morrigan's part, at least – barely even breathing. A moment passed, then another, but there wasn't any more movement.

Morrigan slowly and carefully rolled back over. Theron was still asleep, his face slack and his breathing steady. She looked over him, meeting Zevran's gaze.

He winked at her.

She rolled her eyes, but there wasn't any real heat behind the movement. Whether she liked it or not, Zevran had grown on her. Like a weed. Or mold. Something unpleasant that she normally would have destroyed long before then, except it had proven surprisingly resilient.

Besides, she was leaving. There was no question of that. She would be long gone in the aftermath of the Blight, and it would be better for Theron to have someone who would stay with him. And even if she didn't particularly want to admit it, Zevran was a surprisingly honorable man. For an assassin. He would stay with Theron, and eventually they would both forget she had even existed.

"You should sleep," Zevran said suddenly, his voice barely audible even in the stillness of the room. "Tomorrow will be another long day."

He was staring at her with that knowing look on his face again, and Morrigan couldn't help but wonder just what it was that he thought he knew. There was no chance that he could know about the ritual. She hadn't mentioned it to anyone. And yet he looked at her as if he was looking into a mirror, as if he was seeing something that he recognized. But what could he possibly... be...

Morrigan narrowed her eyes, looking at him a bit more sharply.

Zevran gave her a tired smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, and in that moment she knew without a doubt that he'd figured out she was leaving. Oh, he probably didn't know when or why. Those were secrets that she was holding close to her chest, and she had no plans on sharing them with even Theron until the time was right. But he knew, of that she was certain.

And he had similar plans himself.

Morrigan's gaze flickered to Theron, sleeping silently between them, and there was a pang in her chest at the thought that he might end up alone. There was nothing she could do about it, though. She had to leave. All of her plans would unravel completely if she didn't.

"He will understand that we have things hanging over our heads that must be taken care of," Zevran said quietly. "And it is not like it will be forever."

Morrigan didn't say anything, nor did she meet Zevran's gaze. She was worried that he might see too much in her eyes if she were to give him access to them just then.

There was a long pause before Zevran spoke again. "At least, I do not plan for it to be on my part," he said, a hint of confusion in his voice this time. "Perhaps the same is not true for you?"

"Like you said, we should get some sleep," Morrigan said quietly, her gaze still focused on Theron's peacefully sleeping face. Then she took a shaky breath and glanced over at Zevran, looking away just as quickly when she saw the expression on his face. That wasn't something she wanted to remember, not if she could help it.

There was another moment of silence before Zevran sighed. "Yes," he said. "Yes, we should sleep. And then perhaps tomorrow we shall talk?"

"No, I don't think so," Morrigan said. "Sometimes there's nothing to talk about. Things will be as they will be."

She positioned herself so that her back was to the both of them, her gaze focused out into the murky darkness of the room. She doubted that she would be getting much sleep that night, but she knew better than to keep facing them. Her resolve was already crumbling, and she needed to shore it back up rather than letting it be destroyed even more.

Behind her, the bed creaked slightly as Zevran moved a little, but he didn't say anything else. The room settled back into silence, even if it had a bit more of an awkward air to it than earlier.

Morrigan closed her eyes. In her mind, she saw the look on Zevran's face from a few minutes earlier as he had stared at her with an expression that was an even mixture of confusion, hurt, and accusation.

Everything would be worth it in the end. It had to be.

*

Morrigan had spent her entire life alone, with no one but her mother to keep her company. It should have been easy to slip back into that life. And yet it had been the opposite.

Her hand slipped down to rest on her swollen belly. Her time was close, of that she was certain. The midwife in the village had started sending her son by Morrigan's hut multiple times a day, to make certain her services were not yet needed. Soon, she would be sending him back to get his mother, and then the child would be in her arms. Her child. No, her son. She was almost certain it would be a boy, even if she didn't quite know why.

She wondered if he would look like Theron.

In her dreams, she held a small babe with red hair and green eyes, his ears ending in the slightest of points. Something tugged lightly at her dress, while two pairs of arms were wrapped around her. They always felt real.

Of course, in her dreams, there were often two elven men standing at her side, so she knew they were nothing more than fantasies. There was nothing prophetic about them, because that was something that would never happen.

Morrigan had made her decision nine months earlier. There was no going back, and she knew it.

Behind her, she heard the telltale sound of her front door being pushed open, and she sighed. "For the last time, boy, I will scream loudly enough for anyone nearby to hear when my time comes," she said as she turned around. "There is no reason for your mother to send you by to check on me every few—"

She cut off abruptly when she saw who it was standing in her doorway.

"You," Morrigan hissed, her eyes narrowing. "What are you doing here?"

Zevran leaned against the doorframe, a familiar smirk on his face as he ran his gaze over her. His eyes clearly focused in on her middle. "It is good to see you too, Morrigan."

She glared at him, crossing her arms possessively in front of her. "How did you find me?"

He shrugged. "I have been cleaning house with the Crows," he said. "One of them told me a very interesting rumor about a pregnant apostate in a village near the border, in the hope that I would not kill him."

Morrigan narrowed her eyes. "I'm assuming you still killed him?"

"Oh, of course," Zevran said. "If he would tell me where you were, then he would tell anyone. But I did make it quick." He shot her a quicksilver grin. "I'm merciful that way."

Her mouth turned upwards into a smile despite her best efforts to stop it. If anyone asked, she blamed the pregnancy.

"I told the villagers that I was looking for my pregnant lover," Zevran said, winking at her. "If the child turns out to have red hair, I'm certain there will be rumors."

Morrigan rolled her eyes. "There have been rumors about me since I first stepped foot in this village two months ago," she said. "I'm certain they will continue long after I'm gone as well."

Zevran shrugged, but he didn't argue.

She stood there a moment taking him in. It hadn't even been a year since the last time she'd seen him, but he looked as if he had aged much more than that. There were dark circles under his eyes that couldn't be hidden, and there was a healing cut on his neck that she was almost certain would end up becoming a new scar.

"How is he?" she asked, the words slipping out without her quite meaning them to.

Zevran gave her a tired smile. "Good, the last I heard," he said. "I have not seen him in person for some time, but he writes. He has been in Amaranthine, leading the Wardens there."

Morrigan tried her best to ignore the rush of relief that went through her. "Then he's not entirely alone," she said.

"Not entirely, no," Zevran agreed, shaking his head.

Neither of them said anything for a long moment before Morrigan gestured for him to come inside. Zevran blinked at her before nodding, stepping in and pulling the door closed behind him.

Morrigan walked over to the sole chair she had in the hut, which was sitting next to a small table. She'd found that people tended to stay longer if they had somewhere to sit, so she had made certain not to provide them with any such thing.

Zevran raised his eyebrows, clearly picking up on the reasoning behind her lack of seating, but he didn't say anything. He just sank down onto the floor in front of her, looking up at her from his cross-legged position there. The expression on his face made it clear that he was just waiting for her to start asking questions, and who was she to disappoint him?

"Why are you here, Zevran?" Morrigan asked bluntly. "I made it clear that I had no plans to see you or Theron again."

If anything, his eyebrows went a bit higher. "Did you?" he asked lightly. "How odd. I don't remember any such conversation. My memory must be going."

Morrigan narrowed her eyes. "Do not play games with me."

"Fine." Just like that, the lightly teasing tone dropped from his voice, replaced with something much harder. "I'm here because he still worries about you. He has never stopped. And as I told you a long time ago, what affects him? Affects me."

Her hand drifted down to rest on her stomach almost against her will. The child was kicking again, as if he knew there was someone new there and was trying to get their attention.

"It is better if he forgets me," Morrigan said quietly.

Zevran let out a loud snort that didn't hold a hint of actual amusement in it. "Oh, I'm certain it would be," he said, "but I think we both know Theron well enough to be aware that will never happen."

She managed to hold off her smile this time, if only barely.

"I betrayed him," she said. "And I'm sure he's told you exactly what the child inside of me will be. He's horrible at keeping secrets."

"Bah." Zevran waved his hand at that, although he didn't dispute her opinion of Theron's secret-keeping skills. "Theron doesn't care about such things. He cares about you. And the child that the two of you are having."

She opened her mouth to reply, but she was cut off with Zevran held up a finger and continued a bit more forcefully.

"I'm certain that you don't expect to stay in this village any longer than you have to, especially now that you know there are rumors spreading about you," he said. "So what is your plan? Where will you go? Who will you trust?"

Morrigan had to give it to him, he didn't make any official offer. But she knew him well enough to know exactly what he was asking.

The image of an Eluvian flashed in her mind, mixed in with the rumors and hints of what was to come that she'd been piecing together over the past nine months. She sighed.

"I may have a few things that need to be done in Fereldan once the child is born," Morrigan admittedly wryly. "Ones that would be best done without a child at my breast during them."

Zevran grinned at her. "I have been told that I am an excellent baby-sitter," he said, lying through his teeth without even a hint of shame about it.

Morrigan rolled her eyes. "I'm certain no one has ever said any such thing about you."

His grin simply grew wider.

She hadn't planned on trying to seek out Theron while she was in Fereldan. She'd expected to slip in and out as quickly as possible, hiding her presence the best she could. But perhaps it would not hurt to at least let a few rumors slip out.

If Zevran had gone to the trouble of tracking her down, it didn't feel right to not give Theron the same chance. Even if she doubted he would be quite as forgiving as Zevran seemed to think he would.

"Can I touch?"

Morrigan blinked at Zevran's question, her gaze immediately dropping back down to him. He was still sitting at her feet, but his attention seemed to keep being drawn towards the large bump under her dress as if it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.

"I suppose," she said slowly.

The words hadn't even finished coming out of her mouth before Zevran had reached up to press his hand gently against her swollen belly, his eyes going wide just a moment or two later. "I felt something!"

There was no preventing the smile that tugged at her lips just then.

*

"... and that is why you must beware the trickery of the Dread Wolf."

Kieran stared up at Theron with wide eyes as he finished his story, and Zevran had an amusingly similar expression on his face. Morrigan carefully hid her laugh in a cough.

Zevran snapped out of the spell first, quickly smoothing his expression as if he hadn't just been listening to Theron tell stories about Fen'Harel with starry eyes. His eyes darted towards Morrigan, as if he was daring her to say a word. Then he turned his attention back towards Theron.

"That was a wonderful story, my Warden."

Theron blushed slightly. "It's just a children's tale," he said. "They used to tell it around the fire on autumn nights, to keep us from straying too far from camp on our own."

Zevran grinned at him. "That doesn't mean it isn't a good story."

Morrigan smiled, shaking head as she got up to pour them all another cup of tea.

At four years old, Kieran was old enough to truly begin appreciating his roots at least somewhat. Theron had begun telling him more and more Dalish stories, while Morrigan had pulled from the Chasind legends that she vaguely remembered being told during her own childhood. As for Zevran... well, most of his stories were highly edited, at the very least.

It never ceased to amuse her that Zevran seemed just as enthralled by the Dalish stories as Kieran. She hadn't realized at first why he had seemed so taken by them, not until Theron had quietly told her one night that Zevran's mother had been a Dalish elf who had left her clan. After that, well, she wanted Kieran to know where he came from so she didn't see how it could hurt to insist that Theron tell stories on a more regular basis.

Especially since she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he would need to know those stories someday. Something was coming, and she wanted him to have anything and everything that could possibly help him when that day came.

"Mother?"

Morrigan blinked and glanced down as she felt something tug at her dress. She hadn't even noticed Kieran following her away from the hearth, but he apparently had. She looked over her shoulder, not surprised to see Theron and Zevran lost in each other's eyes in a way that was bound to lead to them slipping off before too long. Kieran always seemed to find a way to slip away whenever he thought there was a chance any of the adults in his life were going to get too intimate for his tastes.

"Yes?" she asked, pulling her attention away from the fireplace and back towards her son. "Did you want something?"

He nodded quite seriously. "I would like a brother."

Morrigan was suddenly very glad she hadn't had a chance to pour herself any more tea yet, because she suspected it would have been spit across the room if she had. "What?"

"Or a sister," Kieran said hurriedly, as if he thought it was the gender of his future sibling that was the issue rather than the idea in the first place.

She opened her mouth. Then she closed it, her eyes darting back towards the hearth. Theron and Zevran seemed completely oblivious to the entire conversation happening on the other side of the room, their attention focused entirely on each other.

With a sigh, Morrigan knelt down so that she was eye-to-eye with Kieran. "Whatever makes you want a brother?" she asked.

"Or a sister," Kieran repeated.

She didn't roll her eyes. It took a lot of effort on her part, but she had gotten better at resisting the urge when dealing with Kieran at least. "Fine then," she agreed. "Whatever makes you want a brother or a sister?"

"Everyone in the stories Father tells has a brother or sister," Kieran said matter-of-factly, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I'd like one too."

Then again, perhaps having Theron tell him so many Dalish stories wasn't a bright idea after all.

Morrigan reached up to pinch the bridge of her nose. "That's... understandable," she said, trying to be careful with her wording. Kieran was exceptionally bright, and he picked up on many things that she'd rather he didn't. "But it's complicated."

"Why?" Kieran asked, tilting his head in a way that was reminiscent of Zevran despite the two of them not actually sharing any blood.

"It just is," Morrigan said firmly.

Kieran frowned. "I look like you," he said. "A brother or sister might look like Father. Or Papa. I'd like that. Wouldn't you?"

It was Morrigan's turn to frown as she looked at him closely. His hair was the same dark shade as her own, as were his eyes. His mannerisms were almost entirely from Zevran, though, while his personality was from Theron. And his thirst for knowledge came from her. In her eyes, he was an almost even mix of all three of them.

But Kieran was right when he said that there wasn't anything but her in his appearance. It had never bothered her. She hadn't realized that perhaps it bothered him.

For just a moment, Morrigan's mind flashed back to those dreams she'd had when she was pregnant with Kieran, back when she'd thought that she would never see Theron or Zevran again. She'd dismissed them as nothing more than wishes, because how could they be anything else? But they'd felt so real at the time, those flashes of her holding a red-haired child as two men stood at her side and.... and...

... and as something tugged at her dress, at just the right level for a small, inquisitive little boy who was trying to get her attention.

Morrigan blinked and, almost without conscious thought, her hand slipped down to rest on her flat stomach. There was nothing in there, of that she was certain. She would know if there was.

"Can I have one, Mother?" Kieran asked. "A brother or sister?"

She took a deep breath and pushed herself back up to her feet, her gaze moving back towards the hearth. Theron and Zevran had apparently noticed that their audience had disappeared, and they were taking advantage of it to reacquaint themselves with each other's mouths. It would probably be very mean of her to send Kieran running over there to disturb them.

Morrigan allowed herself a small smile.

"I think you need to talk to your Father and Papa about that," she said, giving Kieran a nod. "If they're interested in such things, then I might be willing to entertain the idea."

Kieran's face lit up and, without another word to her, he turned and sprinted back in the direction he'd come.

"Papa! Father!" In front of the fire, Theron and Zevran quickly sprang apart. Morrigan didn't even try to hide her amusement as she followed behind Kieran at a much more sedate pace. "Mother said I should talk to you if I want a baby brother or sister!"

At the looks that appeared on their faces, Morrigan couldn't have stopped her laughter even if she'd wanted to try.

*

Morrigan knew that she was where she needed to be. The Winter Palace was going to be the focus of so many things in the near future, and it was important that she be in the thick of it.

But that didn't mean there wasn't a part of her that didn't miss the small, comfortable hut that they had all called home for that handful of years.

She missed Theron more than she had thought she would, but he had his life and she had hers. It wasn't as if this was the first time he had left – even when they'd lived in their hut, far away from the cares of the world – he and Zevran had both had to slip away from time to time to deal with their own responsibilities. It had been over two years since the last time she'd seen him, though, which was the longest they had been apart since they'd met.

There was a part of Morrigan that wanted to berate herself as a fool for giving anyone such power over her. Another part would have given anything for him to return to her side, whether his quest was finished or not.

Still, at least she wasn't entirely alone.

Morrigan didn't say anything as she quietly unlocked the door to her private quarters and slipped inside, her hand resting on the knife she'd started keeping strapped to her thigh since she'd arrived in Halamshiral. Zevran had given it to her, a surprisingly serious look in his eyes for once, and advised that she never be without it in case her magic ever failed her.

It had already saved her life once.

"Mother!"

She smiled at Kieran as he came rushing towards her, his younger sister trailing behind him at a much more sedate pace. Lyna was the splitting image of Theron, right down to the light dusting of freckles that covered her entire body like stars, but her personality was almost entirely from her mother – save for her ability to get into anything, no matter how well it was locked, which she had clearly gotten from Zevran.

Morrigan gave Kieran a gentle hug before patting Lyna on the shoulder, well aware that her daughter disliked hugs unless she was the one to initiate them. Then she looked around the room, frowning when she didn't see any sign of someone else being in the room.

"Where is Zevran?" she asked.

Kieran shrugged, a much-too-innocent look on his face that Morrigan didn't believe for an instant.

Lyna turned and pointed towards the bedroom. "He's trying to stop bleeding before you notice."

Morrigan's frown grew even more pronounced. "He's what?"

"You weren't supposed to say anything," Kieran hissed at his sister.

Lyna shrugged back at him. "You agreed, but I didn't. Next time, he won't assume you're speaking for both of us."

"Both of you stay here," Morrigan said, slipping past them and heading towards the bedroom.

She doubted it was anything serious, or the children would be more worried, but she couldn't help but feel a little bit of concern that Zevran had even let them see him injured in the first place. He usually cleaned up before returning to their quarters if things got messier than usual.

Morrigan pushed open the door to the bedroom just in time to see Zevran quickly pulling a loose shirt over his head. The quick glimpse she got of his chest showed several bruises that well on their way towards darkening as well as a white cloth wrapped around his abdomen, a few spots of blood already showing through it.

"What did you do to yourself?" she asked, slipping inside and shutting the door behind her.

Zevran didn't look particularly surprised to see her as he looked towards the door. "I knew that I should have gotten Lyna to give me a promise as well," he grumbled, although there wasn't any real irritation in his voice.

Morrigan ignored his attempt at deflecting her question and simply walked over to him, her hand already reaching out to pull his shirt up.

"I'm fine," he said. "I've had much worse than this."

She raised her eyebrows. "I know you have," she said. "I was there when Wynne healed you after you were skewered with that greatsword."

Zevran opened his mouth. Then he closed it, apparently deciding that discretion might be the better option just then.

Morrigan reached out and focused, carefully healing the wound as best she could. It was deeper than she liked, but she didn't feel any sign of poison or other corruption around the injury, so it could have been worse. It wasn't perfect, and she suspected it would leave a scar, but she stopped pushing magic into it once she was fairly certain the bleeding had at least stopped.

"You'll live," she said dryly.

Zevran gave her an exaggerated bow before straightening back up. "I'm certain it was only your quick thinking and exceptional magical skills that prevented me from—"

She punched him. Hard. Right on the freshly healed wound.

He cut off abruptly with a flinch. "Point taken."

Morrigan took in a deep breath and then slowly released it. "Whatever happened, should I be worried?"

Zevran shook his head. "No," he said. "It was strictly business, nothing more and nothing less."

"You're certain?" she pressed.

He nodded at her, the expression on his face serious for once. "I would stake my life on it."

It's not your life that I'm worried about, is what Morrigan almost said. Perhaps just a few years earlier, she would have. The older she got, though, the better she was at keeping her sharp tongue from getting her into too much trouble.

Especially when it came to saying things that she didn't actually mean.

"Still, keep your eyes open," Morrigan said. "Even if this was simply business, I think that things will start becoming more complicated very soon."

Zevran narrowed his eyes at her, studying her face for a moment, before nodding. "I'll let you know if I hear anything."

Morrigan gave him a brief nod of her own before walking past him and sitting down on the bed, patting the empty space beside him. "Tell me, have you heard anything new about this Inquisition that everyone is talking about?"

"A few things," he said, walking over to join her. "Nothing concrete, but there have been some rumors." He paused, narrowing his eyes at her a little. "Why?"

"Let's just say that I have a feeling it might become important," Morrigan said. Her gaze darted towards the closed door that separated them from Kieran and his sister.

Zevran followed her gaze, his face falling a bit. "Are you certain?"

Morrigan shrugged. "Nothing in life is certain," she said. "It is a feeling, nothing more."

"But?" he pushed.

She gave him a tired smile before reaching into her dress and pulling out the letter that she had received earlier that day. Zevran frowned as she handed it to him, but his eyes widened a bit when he recognized the handwriting. His gaze quickly darted from the letter back up to her face.

"There's something happening with the Wardens," Morrigan said. "Theron's worried."

Zevran bit his lip. "Perhaps I should—"

"Stay here and help me deal with these Orlesians and their plots before I decide to simply kill them all and be done with it?" Morrigan said dryly, cutting him off mid-sentence. "Yes, that sounds like a good idea."

Then she reached out and offered him her hand. Zevran stared at it for a moment before reaching out and taking it.

"Well, when you put it that way," he said, "who am I to refuse?"